Angel Olsen has taken a break from making radio-friendly indie-pop janglers to cover five AAA 80s anthems on new EP Aisles. Like a lot of covers, the less committed you are to the original the more you’re likely to enjoy these: I’m least familiar with Billy Idol’s Eyes Without A Face than anything else on here, and for me her reworking is the clear stand out, with just the right amount of breathy dirge. On the other hand, the mere fact that she’s had a crack at Alphaville’s heartbreaking masterpiece Forever Young is utterly despicable.
Around the release of her debut album Half Way Home, I saw Angel Olsen perform to a couple of hundred people at a modest venue in Shepherd’s Bush. She was magnetically brilliant: flirting with some random guy in the front row, asking if anyone had any tequila and ploughing through what felt like pretty much every song she’d released up to that point.
Since then, obviously, she’s become huge, and every album since has been ramped up in terms of scope, production, energy and scale. It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed lots of it, but I’ve definitely missed the stripped-down heartbreak of songs like Safe In The Womb and Lonely Universe. So her latest release, Whole New Mess, which presents the stark original versions of tracks from 2019’s All Mirrors is about as up-my-street as it’s possible to be, and [New Love] Cassette is just one of many gems in which you can hear the ghost of the song it eventually became.